When I analyse the severity of my condition and its implications, those cautionary public warning ads the government used to broadcast, spring to mind. They were usually in black and white, for added scare factor, and served to terrorise viewers about the perils of alcoholism, drug addiction, unsafe sex and undesirables.
My name is Loser, I mean Louisa, and I’m a recovering snoop; the supermarket kind.
Let me give you a brief job description of the supermarket snoop. I’m a store detective of sorts; Snupe D for short. ‘Dr House’ and Columbo (google it, Generation Y) are rookies compared to me.
What you put in your shopping trolley reveals who you really are. Fact. And I’m the court sketch artist. I collate my (mostly unsubstantiated) evidence, analyse it and pass judgment on your lifestyle in about the same amount of time as it takes the average shopper to queue behind the hearing impaired wrinkly at the Deli section.
Intrusive? Yes, there probably are ridiculous privacy laws against such anti-social behavior, which is why I probably need to stop.
Don’t get me wrong, I have tried to do the right thing and wean myself off my addiction, but I’ve been ‘taking’ for a long time. And I’m also restricted by a lack of mentor support. The old man hasn’t stepped into a food establishment, (other than Macdonalds, which is his main source of vital nutrients – see ‘Eating To Live’), since we married, so adding the ‘food shop’ to his department of domestic chores is not negotiable; cold turkey it is.
I despise myself for being so voyeuristic, (sort of). But step 1 of my self-imposed rehab is to begin by avoiding all eye contact with other shoppers, and thereby all potentially dangerous trolley contact.
But you know how hard it is to change the bad habits of a lifetime and yesterday, I had my first relapse.
The elderly woman in front of me was rubenesque, ‘chunky’ might be a more apt description, (actually, I’m being uncharacteristically generous; she was as fat as), and her trolley was full of junk food. Just saying. The middle-aged lady in front of her was almost pinched with thinness, so painfully stick-like that when she turned sideways I almost lost sight of her in the gum section, and unsurprisingly she had a real lets-party (not) selection of organic root vegetables lining the bottom of her trolley.
The key is balance, peeps. It’s not rocket science, but it’s equally not my right to pass judgement.
What goes around comes around; some call it divine retribution.
Or paranoia. I’m sure those minimum-brain wage teenagers are eyeing my trolley contents in a similarly hypercritical way. Makes me wonder what my trolley says about me?
A garden’s worth of lush, solid-faeces producing plant life and organic meat on the plus side, alongside an artery’s worst nightmare of pop tarts, chocolate, biscuits and more chocolate. Super tampons (big babies, honest!), every size of sanitary pad imaginable, which say ‘periods as heavy as a chainsaw massacre’ a.k.a middle-aged, because only the incontinent wear sanitary pads THAT dense. A pack of three condoms: one for Christmas, one for the old man’s birthday and one for the mortified teenager to discover while snooping through his parents bedroom.
I realize now that my pathetic defensive pleas of ‘ we’re having a party’ or ‘lucky that chocolate was on special’ falls on deaf ears, as the sullen, judging, teenage cashier scans my weekly hoard, building an inaccurate, (although no doubt close) portrait of the degenerate I am at home, piece by piece.
It reminds me of the ‘diet table’ at school, in those wonderful un-politically correct days when we still discussed skin colour and men could sit next to minors on planes.
Each week, as we entered the food hall, hungry for our lashings of Spotted Dick and roast, we were assessed physically and publically by the school Gestapo in case we might be a little ‘over-nourished’, ‘round-faced’…. FAT. And if we had eaten all the pies the week before, acquired a kilo or five or become a little porky around the gills, we would be marched off in a kind of ‘fattest girl in the school’ procession to the shame of the ‘diet table’, and fed salad until we were deemed fit enough to rejoin the under 55kg ‘populars’.
Many of my friends have been so scarred by that experience that they haven’t been able to look at a lettuce leaf since.